The Big Spin

Does the ball really curve?


We have looked at the principles of motion. In this lesson we make connections with a thrown or kicked ball.

The question is does a ball curve or is it an optical illusion?

At the end of the lesson you will write a reaction essay covering the principle that relate to a thrown ball.


Batters insist that a good pitcher is able to throw a "filthy" breaking ball that curves drasticly.

There are several hypotheses that could explain batter statements:

  1. A ball curves. It is not an optical illusion.
  2. The ball drops because of gravity
  3. The seams of the ball influence/create the altered flight of the ball.
  4. There physical imperfections in the ball that affect the flight of a thrown, batted, or kicked ball.

Read the article below:

Curve Ball
Physics of a Breaking Pitch
Physics of the Fastball


Try out a curve ball  simulation.

Can a pitcher throw a ball so hard that it rises? Would your hypothisis change if we were to throw a softball with a fastpitch softball motion?

What affect does atmoshpere have on a thrown ball?

Does the ball react differently in Cleveland or Denver?

What about a ball thrown in the Himalyas?

Compare and analyze a curve ball thrown on earth and a curve ball thrown on Mars.

Complete the essay using the template.  Be sure to make connection back to the aerodynamic principles addressed in other lessons.

Done Early?

Read the "Mechanics of Baseball".  Create a PowerPoint presentation that explains the physics of the game of baseball.

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Last modified: 5/30/2012